I know it’s been a while since I posted the fact I was about to toe the line at the Sundown half marathon but several weeks later I think I’ve finally cooled down!
In summary….it was hot and humid! The race location was the first challenge as it runs alongside the Singapore Airport and there is pretty much only one access road which leads to the venue so traffic was a problem. This was further compounded by the fact that the race has a 10k, half marathon and full marathon so there are plenty of runners.
Fortunately we set off early and were ready to start in plenty of time. I encountered a new experience at this race before the gun had even gone off. As I’m not the fastest of runners I will always take my rightful place towards the pack of the pack, however on this occasion I was running with someone who was determined to break their PB and run under 2 hours. With so many starters we didn’t want t spend the first 10 minutes of the race doing the usual ‘zig-zag’ and so we headed straight to the front of the start line and positioned ourselves directly behind the elite runners!
We then had about 15-20 minutes to wait before the gun went off. Despite it already being dark the temperature hadn’t dropped and there had been a recent downpour so the humidity was very high. My running companion further added to my stress about the heat by mentioning that even by her standards (she has lived in Singapore for many years) tonight was very hot and very humid!
By the time the gun went off I’d already consumed most of the water I was carrying and was looking forward to the first aid station.
I’d tried to acclimatise with 3-4 runs before the race but my body simply wasn’t used to the humidity. By the time I’d hit the 7k mark I already felt more exhaisted than I did at the finish line of the Loch Ness Marathon I’d completed the year before. To combat this I started to walk the aid stations in an attempt to cool down and drop my heart rate. I’d read about the dangers of heat stroke and the issues around humidity meaning your body is unable to evaporate the sweat you produce which steadily increases your pulse. This is exactly what was happening to me! In a typical long run my pulst will rise to 150 and sometimes 160 which I can then sustain for several hours. Based on a quick check during the race my HR was up around 200 and I had no option but to drop my pace (walk at a brisk pace for some sections) and throw as much cold water on my head as I could find.
The race itself was great in terms of the number of runners and as it’s basically an out and back route it’s reassuring when you hit the turnaround to see how many thousands of people are still behind you. The main challenge however was the total lack of scenery and interest in the course. Obviously it’s dark because the race is at night, there are large sections with little street lighting and the course is totally flat. Looking back it was like running the enture race on a treadmill.
Still I pushed on knowing there was a medal waiting for me at the finish line. As we made the final turn with 500m to go there were people who had collapsed on the final straight with medical crews around them (not a good sign). At this point I still had plenty in the tank as my issue had been my HR getting too high rather than tired legs so I hit a sprint for the last 300m and passed 10-20 people before the line.
It was a great experience overall, I love running a race while on holiday (I’d done something similar in Toronto the previous year) and I have utter admiration for those running the full marathon that night in those conditions. The biggest tip of the cap however should be reserved for the runners taking part in the Sundown Ultramatarthon 4 weeks later who ran 100k in the same heat and humidity, amazing!